How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful: Noam Chomsky & Glenn Greenwald

The basis for power elite membership is institutional power, namely an influential position within a prominent private or public organization. One study of power elites in the USA under George W. Bush identified 7,314 institutional positions of power encompassing 5,778 individuals.[15] A later study of US society found that the demographics of this elite group broke down as follows:

Corporate leaders average about 60 years of age. The heads of foundations, law, education, and civic organizations average around 62 years of age. Government-sector members about 56.
Women are barely represented among corporate leadership in the institutional elite and women only contribute roughly 20 percent in the political realm. They do appear more among top positions when it comes to cultural affairs, education, and foundations.
White Anglo-Saxons dominate in the power elite, with Protestants representing about 80 percent of the top business leaders and about 73 percent of members of Congress.
Nearly all the leaders are college-educated with almost half having advanced degrees. About 54 percent of the big-business leaders and 42 percent of the government elite are graduates of just 12 heavily endowed, prestigious universities.
Social Clubs
Most holders of top position in the power elite possess exclusive membership in one or more social clubs. About a third belong to a small number of especially prestigious clubs in major cities like New York, Chicago, Boston, and D.C.[16]

In the 1970s an organized set of policies promoted reduced taxes, especially for the wealthy, and a steady corrosion of the welfare safety net.[17] Starting with legislation in the 1980s, the wealthy banking community successfully lobbied for reduced regulation.[18] The wide range of financial and social capital accessible to the power elite gives their members heavy influence in economic and political decision making, allowing them to move toward attaining desired outcomes. Sociologist Christopher Doob gives a hypothetical alternative stating that these elite individuals would consider themselves the overseers of the national economy, appreciating that it is not only a moral but a practical necessity to focus beyond their group interests. Doing so would hopefully alleviate various destructive conditions affecting large numbers of less affluent citizens.

Mills determined that there is an “inner core” of the power elite involving individuals that are able to move from one seat of institutional power to another. They therefore have a wide range of knowledge and interests in many influential organizations, and are, as Mills describes, “professional go-betweens of economic, political, and military affairs.”[19] Relentless expansion of capitalism and the globalizing of economic and military power binds leaders of the power elite into complex relationships with nation states that generate global-scale class divisions. Sociologist, Manuel Castells, writes in The Rise of the Network Society that contemporary globalization does not mean that “everything in the global economy is global.”[20] So, a global economy becomes characterized by fundamental social inequalities with respect to “the level of integration, competitive potential and share of the benefits from economic growth.”[21] Castells cites a kind of “double movement” where on one hand, “valuable segments of territories and people” become “linked in the global networks of value making and wealth appropriation,” while, on the other, “everything and everyone” that is not valued by established networks gets “switched off… and ultimately discarded.”[21] The wide-ranging effects of global capitalism ultimately affect everyone on the planet as economies around the world come to depend on the functioning of global financial markets, technologies, trade and labor.

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  • joe schmo

    Exactly. I just love how this all plays into exactly what happens domestically as far as authorities using the law to shield themselves from scrutiny regarding ill-gotten gains. I think this is one of the reasons I instinctively hate corporate lawyers. Chomsky has pointed out there is no meaningful difference between government and corporations in this context. The USDA. The FDA. Big Pharma. Big Agra. Big Chemical. Big Medical. These guys have complete control, the law on their side and are free to do what they like (and that includes, in the case of Big Pharma and Chemical, to engage in pure fraud and deception regarding the efficacy and/or safety of their products).

  • Carlito House

    You don't have to be "right wing" to realize what a complete narcissist Chumpsky is. He's just another America-hating 'Liberal' who takes for granted the difference between the secular West and theocratic Middle East. Don't be seduced by Noam's vocabulary, he really is a very dim bulb.

  • blthetube1

    Our legal "Industry" works on a sliding scale. 1st. How much are you willing to spend to have the most irritating, tenacious, and knowledgeable lawyer who knows their way around the legal system. 2nd. If the judge or the jury likes you or dislikes your opposition.

    That said, you could have a girl guide with no lawyer go up against a represented and most well connected business person and I think all those involved would have a nervous breakdown on who to side with irrespective of what the law may say in their case.

  • mark1more

    I agree with a lot of what he is saying, however his examples are painfully self serving.  He refers to one political commentators statements and then goes on to treat them as proof of a stance held by all of America and the world.  Then we hear about the poor child in Afghanistan that "picked up a rifle to defend his village", only to be held as a war criminal.  Chomsky then states that the child is a Canadian citizen… does that not seem contradictory?  I enjoy a bit of West-Batiing, but please don't be so transparently biased.

  • Thomas John Kenny (Tom)

    Good lecture, imo from Glen Greenwald (pre Snowdon) and Noam Chomsky (a past favoured author). Although video was tapped four years ago, I think the broad themes and concepts are relevant today, if not more so. I find it interesting in the global interconnected world we live in.

    Glenn says we pay lip service to the idea of equality under law but says this is a misnomer and gives examples of the pardon of Nixon, continuing the shielding of Iran-contra criminals, the Obama administrations behaviour of trying to shield Bush crimes of torture, illegal eavesdropping, the aggressive attack on Iraq and the decision not to prosecute wall street criminals for precipitating the 2008 financial collapse with systematic fraud.

    It leads to a belief that the powerful elites in our society are not and should not be subject to the rule of law. Arguments put forward are that we should look forward and find ways to stop a repeat of what went on. Argument is also put forward that its in our common good to exempt powerful from the law – because it would be too disruptive to have true equality.

    The problem is that having one rule for one and another for an elite is the problem with the rule of law. The war on terror has put new layers on it. Says this is one of the reasons why there is a loss of faith in the institutions.

    Chomsky says aggression is the worst of all war crimes because it is the precursor for all the evil that follows. Says that that the presumption of innocence is a fundamental principle in western law and this is under threat. Gives example of Bin Laden – says there was not enough of the right evidence to trial him in a credible court.

    Says the International order is set up legitimise power for the west ie US. Talks about the idea of a terrorist list – how it is not questioned whos on it – if the Government says a State or organisation is on it its taken as gospel.

    Glenn says that the idea that, internationally, the US having one standard for other countries and another for itself was the template that got imported domestically where there seems to be one standard for ordinary citizens and another for an exempt elite. Gives example of hypocrisy of Obama where at home he says that rather than dwelling on the Bush administrations behaviour, we should look forward not backwards – then when in Indonesia says that its impossible to move forward without resolving the issues of the past or shield war criminals from accountability.

    Glenn equates the war crimes of World War 2 Germany, of being an aggressor nation in war to the behaviour of the Bush administration in relation to Iraq. He seems to define them both as war crimes based on the definition by Justice Jackson at the Nuremberg tribunal.

    Glens concerns is that when a Government begins acting against its own citizens it can escalate a climate of fear that can lead to political suppression and this is what is been seen in the United States.

    Says that those in power are using the law as a means of holding onto power. Gives examples of how whistle-blowers are treated.

    Chomsky says that the modern conception of International Law goes back to the second world war – the Nuremberg tribunals, the charter of the United nations and so on. Says then the US was instrumental is setting up the International court of justice but also said that the US was not subject to any charges based on International treaties.

    Says with torture, its a grey area under US law as to whether Bush was in violation because of the way the US law is written.

    Says change takes time and gives the example of the civil rights movement which actually started in the 30's but it took years to become mainstream. Gains were won but there is a long way to go.

  • desertrose21359

    He is one of those brave intellectual  is live and have voice at this century, unfortunately today education are missing lots chances to  grow intellectual  like him to grow today, reason those who make profit from unformed society are strong to not lose their benefit from not only uneducated society also, keep voice of those who understand to be cut and quite,

  • Tom Evans

    I can't believe how STUPID these two are! Hello: the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful, because the powerful ARE the law!
    We are supposed to live in a democracy were everyone's equal, but we don't– THANKS TO LINCOLN!
    Before Lincoln, the PEOPLE held the power, while after Lincoln the GOVERNMENT held it– along with the lobby who gets them elected.
    And so since Lincoln destroyed democracy, we live under OLIGARCHY, and it can do whatever it wants.

  • dries boy

    We cannot think of a better way to find, check, and spread the Ultimate Truth than an internet contest. Everyone can be a judge. Everyone can make an entry or a comment. We have no agenda except to find and spread the Truth about life and death. What could be more important? Check it out for yourself. Google TruthContest and read the Present it will change everything

  • Achilles Hoplites

    You studies are bullshit, and you crap about "power elites" is more disinfo for the JEWS, Glenwald and Chimpsy are lying fascist zionist bolshie fucktard with -2 IQs and no evidence for their inane, the Soros jews and Im pretty damn sure one of the faggot litttle fat mouthed jews behind 9/11 is Glenwald, who lies for the zionist occupied government and bolshievick asshats that have destroyed and corrupt our country Bush brought over a Stasi former chief head and pig jew to create the TSA, Chertoff headed it an dbuilt it and That fat jewess Napalitano has turned it against the real targets rightists, whites, and Christians like the dumb pigs always do, Sandy Hoax, Aurora Hoax, Virginia Hoax, Dylan Roof hoax, the Rodgers hoax, and all the other lies and psyops show how controlled and how much singularity and diversion there is for the pig jews and their JWO

  • Darren Hines

    ask Choms who blew up the twin towers and why?..his answer will open your eyes to the American deception!…same with bin laden..where's the evidence..i believe all the seals died that day..why, and why put bin laden's body in the sea, if indeed it is? fact, anything America does for the good is dubious!

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